Think about a great experience that you’ve with a salesperson at a store. You likely had a friendly exchange on a human level, the salesperson may have asked you a few questions to learn about who you are and what you’re looking for. And then guided you to the product that is right for you. This interactive in-store experience can be replicated online, at scale, with a quiz.
When used by ecommerce brands, a quiz is a way to gather information from shoppers about their interests, goals, challenges, and preferences. As well as recommending the most appropriate product based on those responses. During the quiz experience, brands can choose to capture contact information (whether email or phone number), to continue list growth.
It’s a simple shopping experience that is fun and engaging for shoppers and adds value to their experience. But under the hood, a quiz is a powerful marketing strategy, used by some of the fastest-growing Direct To Consumer (D2C) brands like Warby Parker, Stitch Fix, Third Love, and more.
A well executed quiz can improve conversion rate, accelerate lead growth, and ultimately create a personalized user experience that directly drives revenue.
In this post, we’ll explore how different ecommerce brands use quizzes, and how you can implement a quiz strategy.
How quizzes fit into the future of ecommerce marketing
Ecommerce marketers are experiencing a seismic shift in their world. There are a few factors at play here;
Increased data privacy
Third-party consumer data that marketers have relied on to run advertising campaigns is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Historically, the D2C marketing playbook was heavily reliant on advertising on social channels like Instagram and Facebook, where targeting and lookalike audiences could deliver highly profitable campaigns.
But with iOS14 (restricting third-party cookies for tracking), the deprecation of third-party cookies in browsers (starting in 2022 on Chrome), and GDPR, it is more necessary than ever to build direct relationships with customers. This means capturing email addresses, and building “owned” channels like email and SMS.
Customer's expect personalization
Consumers expect a great customer experience. Generic and irrelevant websites are enough to make consumers look for alternatives–71% of consumers are frustrated when their shopping experience is impersonal.
But brands that nail a good customer experience, one that is personalized, relevant, and engaging, are rewarded handsomely. Consumers are more likely to purchase when they receive a personalized experience, and 40% of consumers have purchased something more expensive than originally planned due to a personalized experience.
The "Customer Experience Gap"
While customers expect a personalized shopping experience, marketers struggle to meet those expectations. 83% of consumers are willing to share personal information, but in doing so, there is an expectation that it will improve the brand experience, for example with more relevant offers.
The challenge is that marketers struggle to deliver that personalized experience causing the "customer experience gap."
A key ingredient in any personalization effort is gathering data points allowing you to speak to customer on an individual basis.
Historically, personalization at scale might include using a first name, purchase history (ie “because you purchased basketball shoes, you may like these new styles”), and possibly demographic information like age or location.
The power of the quiz is that it arms ecommerce marketers with much richer insights about customers. With this, marketers can build better segmented audiences, send more relevant campaigns, and compelling offers.
In short, every interaction with a consumer can be far more personalized, closing the Customer Experience Gap, if there are the necessary data points.
The growing importance of zero-party data
Zero-party data is information that customers share with a brand. It can encompass the interests, preferences, challenges, goals, and whatever else a brand asks.
Zero-party data gives brands a unique advantage because it captures the holistic context of a consumer, what they want to purchase, or what problem they are trying to solve.
First-party data, based on the transactional history of a customer, can be useful, but has a few shortcomings:
- It is based on historical data - Looking at the behavioral data like products purchased or website activity is backward-looking. It can be an indicator of what interests your customers has, but it can not verifiably inform their future actions.
- It requires assumptions - First-party data does not have context, e.g. why did a customer purchase a product, abandoned a cart, or visit your website in the first place?
Assumptions are often made, for example, customer's who purchased twice in the past six months are brand champions. These assumptions are not as valuable as gathering insights directly from customers. And this is where zero-party data adds value.
Connecting the dots by gathering zero-party data can empower marketers to understand what problem they are solving, and how they can help the customer address their needs most effectively.
As Seth Godin writes in This Is Marketing; “Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem.”
Let’s dive in to see how brands use quizzes to help customers solve their problems, while also marketing more effectively.
8 ways to use ecommerce quizzes to your advantage
1. Customize marketing efforts based on different customer problems
The product that you sell likely has different customer types and use cases. A quiz can help you uncover why your customers are on your site, and what problem they are trying to solve.
Subscription clothing brand Stitch Fix has an onboarding quiz that is at the core of their customer experience. It is critical for the brand to understand the sizing, style preferences, and wants of the customer. This can not be gathered from surface-level demographic data.
A 30-year-old male at a New York law firm may want the convenience of getting conservative work clothes sent regularly, but a different person in the same demographic might instead want to try a drastic style change.
The easy way to uncover their needs is to simply ask.
One product can have multiple use cases. Understanding these from the outset can help you identify what’s most important to the customer, and therefore what messaging and campaigns will resonate best.
The Stitch Fix customer that wants to save time may receive just a few transactional emails and messaging that highlights convenience. On the other hand, the customer that wants to discover new styles may receive inspirational style guides and look books.
Similarly, multivitamin brand Persona begins their customer relationship by asking what the customer is looking for in a daily supplement.
These insights can not be gathered by looking at demographic data in Google Analytics, reviewing heatmaps, or analyzing a customer’s purchase history.
Instead, these are data points that reveal some of the psychological factors that drive behavior that can only be garnered by asking directly.
One interesting nuance that brands can gain from a quiz is the psychological mindset, as in, how convinced the customer is that a product is the right solution to their problems.
In an in-person interaction, this can be gathered through the natural course of a conversation, observing physical behaviour or the types of questions that a shopper asks. But in an online shopping experience, this is gathered more explicitly, as multivitamin brand Umzu does in their quiz.
These options; informed, curious, and skeptical, can be seen as heuristics for stages of the funnel. And from there, the subsequent marketing campaigns can be adjusted accordingly.
For example, a customer who identified as an “informed” shopper may be open to a comparison with competitive alternatives, or the nitty-gritty “features” of an Umzu vitamin.
A “curious” shopper may be a good fit for scientific research or customer testimonials. And a “skeptical” shopper may be a good fit for a high-level summary of the benefits that supplements deliver in general.
Dog food brand The Farmer’s Dog takes a similar approach, to understand how the customer views fresh food for dogs.
The first step in a great quiz is to understand the problem that you’re solving and how convinced a customer is, that you are right for them. Use this information to inform how you position your product, and what types of content is most relevant to the customer.
2. Guide customers to the right products
The benefit of an interactive quiz is that it is a guided experience. The customer can answer some straightforward questions and get a product recommendation at the end.
This improves the customer’s shopping experience, and this simplified purchasing process will impact the likelihood of a conversion.
Cosmetics is an example of a purchase process that can be more difficult online than in person. There are so many skin tones and undertones, it’s hard to know which shade of foundation is right, if not applied directly onto your skin.
Brands like Fenty have 50 different shades of foundation, so it’s a fairly difficult decision. The interactive quiz is a great solution to reduce the paradox of choice and guide the customer to the right match.
Here, Fenty uses model photos as a proxy to finding the right shade.
Cosmetics brand Jane Iredale has a similar approach, but they get even more granular by asking the customer to select the right shade and undertone (warm, neutral, cool):
Purchasing items like coffee or wine can also create challenges, as there is requisite knowledge needed to find the right product. Unless a customer has such knowledge, it can be a daunting task to select the right product.
Wine brand Winc has a quiz that makes wine more accessible, even if you aren’t familiar with what tannic structure or level of earthiness you prefer. They also created a proxy; using comparisons customers do understand, like how we take our coffee, or if we like strawberries.
Thus, the quiz can reduce the anxiety and effort of researching the right wine, and instead serves up the most appropriate recommendation based on questions any customer can answer.
A quiz is a powerful tool because it allows brands to identify the most important details about a customer, enabling us to make better product recommendation. The questions you ask should be specifically tailored to learn about them. But the format of how you ask questions is also important. Consider Jonathan Dane’s The Breadcrumb Technique; when you create a quiz start by asking customers very easy, short questions, leaving more difficult questions to later on. Customers will be more likely to answer your complex questions if they have already “micro converted” by answering easy questions.
3. Surface and address customer objections
Along the purchase process, customers are constantly asking themselves questions about the potential purchase. Each of these can be an objection that could end in them abandoning their purchase altogether.
Brands know the common objections that customers have. For example, lingerie brand Bare Necessities knows that customers are often overwhelmed and anxious about finding the right fit when bra shopping. So they convey the simplicity, speed, and accuracy they provide with their fit finder quiz to alleviate this objection.
Men’s hair loss brand Hims knows that customers may have concerns that their products work at all. So they use the quiz consultation to incorporate messaging that addresses potential objections, with a 90-day money-back guarantee.
The dynamic nature of a quiz also allows you to surface objections that different customers may have. Any robust quiz platform (like Prehook) will allow you to show different questions and statements to customers depending on their responses. Thus, you can address and counter objections directly, which is critical in the conversion process.
4. Educate customers
Part of the value of a quiz is that customers have an opportunity to learn: about their problem, about the solution, and about the product itself.
By educating customers, your brand is also establishing its expertise and authority. And by demonstrating knowledge and credibility, you can establish trust. This is a core pillar in Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence, and an important factor in conversion rate optimization.
For example, Hims has a dedicated part of their quiz that offers a quick overview of the causes of hair loss, and more importantly that a solution to this problem does exist. This creates curiosity to learn more about what that solution is.
5. Enhance the impact of social proof
A brand can gain credibility by using social proof–evidence that others have succeeded by purchasing and using the product. Ecommerce brands sprinkle social proof throughout the shopping experience, whether it’s by adding testimonials, reviews, or celebrity endorsements.
Ultimately, social proof reduces anxiety related to a purchase by acknowledging that others have been in the same position. We also know that social proof is more compelling the more relevant it is to the customer.
In the course of the quiz, a brand can ask for information about the customer, and then show social proof specific to their profile. For example, the weight loss product Noom asks demographic questions such as age and gender and specifies the success they’ve delivered for people who are in the same demographic.
And at different points in the quiz, Noom explains how it differentiates its product and asks users to confirm they understand it. A nice way to get users to acknowledge your social proof.
6. Helps you personalize the experience
A quiz is a great tool to create a personalized shopping experience, because it gathers data points about the customer, allows data-backed segments to be built, and can create a unique experience for each individual.
Many shoppers are frustrated when an experience is not personalized, but 44% will likely become repeat buyers if they receive a personalized experience. And 49% of shoppers purchase on impulse if they receive a personalized experience.
Subscription dog food brand, Ollie, is an example of a personalized experience. The menu items are basic units of fresh food; beef, turkey, and chicken. However, the portioning and therefore the specific weekly shipments depend on factors like your dogs’ breed, age, weight, and activity level.
Ollie captures this information via an interactive quiz:
Using all of the data gathered in the quiz they create one compelling recommendation page, which acts as a product page. They personalized the page using my dogs’ name. This reinforces the fact that this is not just a box of kibble that can be purchased at Petco, this is specific to my dog.
7. Create engaging paid advertisements
A quiz is a great hook to capture attention and drive visitors to your website. By its nature, a quiz promises self-discovery and surprise. There is something of the unknown–what will the outcome of the quiz be? Will I receive anything for participating in the quiz, sometimes there’s a discount. The lure of a quiz can therefore be an effective tactic in paid media campaigns.
Below the quiz is used to remove the barriers of confusion for those not familiar with shapewear.
Trade Coffee uses a generous 50% discount and free shipping to further incentivize clicking through to the quiz.
And beauty brand IPSY leverages a quiz, while incorporating urgency into the campaign with a limited-time offer of a free glam bag for those that take the quiz (and purchase) quickly.
A quiz can be an intriguing premise as potential customers thumb through social feeds. The curiosity (and attached incentive of discount, or scarcity) can improve click-through rates by capturing a shoppers attention.
8. Help create omnichannel campaigns
Even if you see a higher conversion rate from those who take a quiz, there will still be a large portion of users who complete the quiz but don’t purchase. However, the mere act of answering the quiz questions and gathering contact information can leave a brand well-equipped to build personalized omnichannel campaigns.
For example, hair care brand Briogeo has a 5 question quiz to “create a product mix custom to your needs”. One of the most critical data points that guides the recommendation is “hair concerns”. Interestingly, this quiz allows customers to prioritize which answers are most important to them.
Fittingly, the recommendation page is designed to highlight products that address the needs I identified, in order of priority:
Within a minute of completing the quiz, I received an email with these same products, separated again by the problems that they address.
This is a great email because it is simple and clear. These are the products that I need to solve my two biggest problems. while I did not see any remarketing ads on Facebook or Instagram, Briogeo could easily use my quiz responses and product recommendation, to remarket to me specifically with the products recommended for me. Thus, the quiz responses can help create a coordinated and personalized experience on the website, email, and paid ads.
Does a quiz make sense for your business?
The landscape for marketers is changing quickly. Where marketers could once rely on troves of third-party data to target and convert shoppers, those sources are diminishing. What will remain is the direct relationship between a brand and its customers. And this will be dictated by customers, not brands.
How can brands establish these relationships? By getting creative and providing value in exchange for critical customer data. Whether it’s via a quiz, contact form, survey, or questionnaire, it will be increasingly necessary to create a program to gather customer data directly from the source.
A few questions to consider when establishing these initiatives:
- What value will your customers receive? Consumers do not want to provide personal information just for the sake of doing so. There must be an exchange of value. Andrew Chens’ Law of Shitty Clickthroughs holds true: “Over time, all marketing strategies result in shitty clickthrough rates.” Whether it’s a discount, personalized recommendation, or custom-made product, brands must get creative.
- What customer insights do you need? The quiz should be as short as possible, while also delivering value to the brand and consumer at every step. Every unnecessary question increases the likelihood of a drop-off. It is important to think holistically about the goals of the quiz; what information could help you improve your experience, product, or service? What data points would help you improve your marketing? Create a quiz that meets your goals.
- Play the long game: Of course, the quiz ideally guides shoppers to the product that they want, and they purchase in the same session. However, more often than not, the quiz will not convert (even if it converts at a higher rate than non-quiz takers). Thus, approach a quiz with the expectation that you’re using the quiz to learn more about the customer, which can serve you in the future. Quiz responses can inform the most relevant content to send, the product positioning that would be most compelling to the customer, and the goals that the customer is trying to achieve.
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